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Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson is arguably the greatest American composer of popular music in the rock era. Born and raised in Hawthorne, California, he formed the Beach Boys in 1961 alongside his two younger brothers, cousin Mike Love, and school friend Alan Jardine. Serving as the group's primary songwriter, Wilson combined the rock urgency of Chuck Berry with the harmonies of the Four Freshmen before expanding his musical imagination during the late '60s, during which time he experimented with new songwriting structures and production techniques. Wilson retreated from his dominance of the Beach Boys after 1967, yielding most of the control to his younger brother Carl. (He made sporadic contributions to their records, returning only briefly in the 1970s and 2010s, the latter as part of a special 50th anniversary tour and album.)

Following a long period of drug addiction, mental illness, and general isolation, Wilson issued his first solo album in 1988. Despite the promising lead single "Love and Mercy," commercial success proved elusive; ironically, the Beach Boys had recorded their own comeback record around the same time and wound up topping the charts with "Kokomo." Wilson attempted to find his footing with a second solo album, Sweet Insanity, which was rejected outright by Sire and permanently shelved.

The 1990s signaled a creative resurgence and coming to terms with his immense influence. It began with a reunion; he recorded the collaborative album Orange Crate Art with mid-'60s collaborator Van Dyke Parks -- it featured Parks' songwriting and Wilson's vocals. That same year, Wilson was the subject of a documentary feature, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, for which he also recorded a full soundtrack. Following those releases was 1998's Imagination, which included several throwbacks to his lush Beach Boys productions of the 1960s; still, it failed to entice a wide commercial audience.

During his time with the Beach Boys, Wilson had often remained at home -- or in the studio -- while the rest of the group set out on tour. Things started to change in the early 2000s, when he began touring as a solo act (often accompanied by a large backing band) and released a pair of live titles: Live at the Roxy Theatre (2000) and Pet Sounds Live (2002). He also prepared a studio album, Gettin' in Over My Head, released in 2004. It was partially overshadowed by Wilson's next project: preparing the legendary Beach Boys record SMiLE for its live debut, as well as making new studio recordings of its songs. He debuted the new SMiLE at the Royal Festival Hall in London on February 20, 2004, and recorded it in the studio that April. Both the live and studio versions earned rapturous reviews, prompting Wilson to launch a full world tour in support of the Grammy-winning album. The seasonal effort What I Really Want for Christmas followed in October 2005.

Wilson began preparing another thematic work after he was commissioned by London's Southbank Centre to help kick off the venue's 2007 season. The result was That Lucky Old Sun, a concept album based on the Great American Songbook and including the participation of his SMiLE band as well as Van Dyke Parks. That Lucky Old Sun premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in September 2007 and was released as a studio album later that year. Wilson returned to the studio two years later, this time to put his own stamp on a number of George Gershwin covers. (At the request of Gershwin's estate, he also completed two piano compositions that were unfinished by Gershwin at the time of his death.) Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin was released in August 2010, marking Wilson's first album for the Disney-affiliated Pearl label. Wilson's second project for Pearl, In the Key of Disney, arrived the following year, and featured 11 classic Disney songs.

In 2012, Wilson officially reunited with the Beach Boys. (All four surviving members of the classic lineup had contributed to a track from Al Jardine's 2011 album Postcard from California.) The group toured and recorded during the first half of 2012, and in June of that year, released That's Why God Made the Radio, their first original album with Wilson in more than 15 years. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard charts and earned positive reviews. After the summer tour, however, Mike Love returned to touring the Beach Boys with only himself and Bruce Johnston as members of the classic lineup, leaving behind Wilson and Jardine.

By 2014, Wilson began recording as a solo act again, with songs that he had initially written for a Beach Boys album. Instead, he recruited guest stars for the venture, including She & Him's Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, fun.'s Nate Ruess, Kacey Musgraves, Capital Cities' Sebu Simonian, and former Beach Boys Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. (Musicians for the project featured classic session players such as Jim Keltner, Kenny Aronoff, Dean Parks, and Don Was.) The results appeared on Capitol in April 2015, under the title No Pier Pressure. ~ William Ruhlmann & John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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If you're reading this, go see the movie Love and Mercy - fascinating biography of Brian during and after his Beach Boys years.
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He is a musical genius!
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cstowell75
My favorite artist of anyone out there!
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Aaah I really like this song! Makes me nostalgic
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whiskersian
dont read this because this actually works. you will be kissed by your lover on the nearest friday. tomorrow will be the best day of your life. now that you are reading this dont stop. post this on 5 songs in 143 minuites. then press f6 and your lovers name will appear in big letters. this is so scary it actually worksdont read this before. it works
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Iwoked on beach boys and the California myth book by david leaf back in 1977-78 at the library of congress doing research on Brian wilson
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Anyone in Pandoraland know when God Only Knows song will come out with Stevie Wonder Brian Wilson and 3 or 4 others ? video
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j9pittgirl
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!!!
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hisnhers1022 2
Brian Wilsons legacy of remarkable music and arrangements will live on forever!!!
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... the lyrics for Good Vibrations on Brian Wilson Presents Smile were flimsy. An iconic song nonetheless.
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Smile>>>you' r e on candid camera
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ccaltevogt
Brian Wilson is a musical genious!!!! Live Long and Prosper Brian!!!
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Brian Wilson is a gift to the would. If he is ever plays live near you don't miss him. Someday he will no longer be able to perform and you will kick yourself for not taking advantage to see and hear the greatest song writer of a generation.
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Oldie, but goodie!! Lift your spirits w/this trac!! ❌⭕❌⭕
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well said, Mitchell - just saw the reunited Beach Boys Monday night - just awesome to see Brian up there with the other guys- they did real nice tributes to Dennis (Forever, with Dennis vocals piped in) and Carl (God Only Knows, with Carl's vocals piped in) - folks, enjoy Brian while you can, he's getting old, I don't know how much longer he can keep this up. great memory for me to hold onto.
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Brian Wilson; God's musical gift to all of us; and props also to his family/band mates; together the term America's Band is not a trite throwaway; it is the truth. And who would have thought that, despite years of off and on animosity, law suits, separate pursuits, etc..Brian would agree to join in on the 50th anniversary Beach Boys tour with every surviving Beach Boy (excepting Ricky Fataar and Blondie Champlin from the early 70's era)? That in itself is a musical miracle.
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saw him in Atlanta back in 2000...I'm better for it....
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walkingman71 7
... I never knew what the lyrics were to this song - ... I'm a real cool head, I'm makin' real good bread. Maybe it was better when I didn't know the words. But this is a great song and Mr. Wilson nails the vocal.
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This man is a musical genius.
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but for the grace of god go us all ... love you'r work B W live long and well Mr. Wilson
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ackerbex3
It has always amazed me that someone with such an unhappy life could create such joyous music - perhaps that was his escape from harsh reality. Regardless, he has contributed richly to our musical landscape
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Chuck Berry invented it and Brian perfected it. Hate to think where music would be now without his genius. Some of the greatest concerts I've ever been to were The Pet Sounds and Smile tours. Thank you Brian!
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Brian Wilson created the soundtrack of my life :)
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he just played on my Dream Academy channel and I have to say I love what I heard.
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It's only recently that I've realized just how significant a musical genius Brian Wilson is, how important the Beach Boys are in the history of rock and roll and how much I suddenly love them. Where have I been all their life?
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don1983
Much Love to Brian, who spread timeless sounds of youth, joy and LOVE! His
music makes my heart glad.
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Brian Wilson is a quintessenti a l artist. I have never met another artist that has not in some way been motivated or inspired by Brian. Not one person has a single negitive thing to say about him personally or professional y . His music and persona projects so much love. Therefore, all that love is reflected back to him. We will be listening and hearing the musical inspirition of Brian throughout the universe and beyond forever. I for one, will have my headphones on! Dr.Ron Grassi,Jupit e r , F l . U S A .
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Brian Wilson is my hero. A sometime tortured musical genius...but his songs will be played forever.

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